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The lasting ripples of Twitter beefs

by Calvin Cashen February 16, 2016
The lasting ripples of Twitter beefs

Though entertaining in its own right, social media has had a troubling impact on hip-hop

Since the advent of social networking services, Twitter has enabled users to exchange information via 140-character messages and discover the latest news relevant to subjects they care about. You’d be surprised by the impact a 140-character message can possess. Twitter supposedly contains information of value, but lately the media platform has become a lightning rod for trash talk. When surveying Twitter, a noteworthy tweet might pop up here and there, but extended slander between artists is sure to pervade your feed.

Graphic by Florence Yee.

Graphic by Florence Yee.

This is known as a “Twitter beef.” A Twitter beef is essentially the airing of grievances towards a person using social networking as a medium of expression. These beefs come in a variety of forms but seem to be mostly aimed at female pop stars and rappers. The media eats this stuff up. and this aggression is a downright cash cow for both artists and corporate structures.

This social media free-for-all derives most commonly from a wild misunderstanding, disparaging remarks, or racially motivated censures on pop culture.

Take the Kanye West controversy for example, in which he, in classic Yeezy fashion, singled out Wiz Khalifa for name-dropping Kim Kardashian. Further developments revealed that Wiz was referring to, “Khalifa Kush,” his strain of weed. Kanye then engaged in a brawl of ‘@’ signs, after Wiz denounced his new album The Life of Pablo’s former working title, Waves.

Wiz instigated the feud, but it serves as a perfect example of a beef blown out of proportion. With often hilarious results, artists have an integral need to prove their worth. Celebrity antagonism isn’t something totally out of the ordinary. From Nicki Minaj’s endearingly absurd jabs at Miley Cyrus (“Miley, what’s good?”), to Chris Brown’s bafflingly enduring contentions, the ‘10s are replete with celebrity hostility.

These feuds usually happen behind closed doors, frequently evaporating from a pop culture centerpiece into an irrelevant thing of the past. Twitter on the other hand, gives artists with a smartphone the opportunity to publicize their hatred. The thing is, once you press that tweet button, it’s permanent.

Looking back, 2015 hasn’t been short on beefs. Meek Mill called out Drake for purportedly using a ghostwriter and Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift swapped criticisms about body norms and racial prejudice at award shows. All-out digital war has erupted due to Twitter and it’s downgrading the importance of music in the public eye.

This polarization is reinforced by a number of contentious world issues like the rising tide of police brutality and the flaws affiliated with the justice court system. Nicki Minaj brought up some fair points on racial partiality in the VMA awards, quite epically nailing down the problem with Twitter and the award season at its core—“U couldn’t go on social media w/o seeing ppl doing the cover art, choreo, outfits [of her song “Anaconda”] for Halloween… an impact like that & no VOTY nomination?” she tweeted.

The fact that blacks are more liable to unfair discrimination on social media and across all aspects of culture, is simply immoral. Making sense of this topic and the aspects that pertain to it is becoming increasingly blurry in modern society.

At the end of the day, celebrities are ordinary people—highly prone to spur-of-the-moment outbursts. However, if we’re unable to separate image from music, are we really better off watching it all transpire from afar? The fact that rap music is being relegated to a genre of parody, in a time where its communal agenda has never been more relevant is a hate-crime all in itself.  My point is that social media isn’t supposed to alienate its consumers from a cultural saturation standpoint; it’s supposed to encourage solidarity. And that is a feeling of security that has been lacking crucially from our social ethics.

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